Pensacola takes a big oil hit

By Christian Jennings - bio | email 

Panama City Beach, FL (WALB) –- Oil remains scattered on Pensacola's shoreline. It's the hardest hit area on Florida's coast.

Sections of beaches were closed and swimming is prohibited in some areas. The worst of it could be seen on Wednesday when the beach looked like a black blanket covered the sand.

But by Thursday, a lot of the oil had been either picked up, swept away by water, or hidden underneath the sand.

But we did see more than one-thousand workers putting in long, hot hours to help get life back to normal.

Larry and Cindy Mitchell grew up in Pensacola, but Thursday afternoon they didn't even recognize their home beach.

Sheets of oil blanketed Pensacola beaches for several miles Wednesday. The morning tide washed some of it away, but most of it is still hidden underneath the sand.

"It was so horrible yesterday, very thick," Larry said.

Thursday, certain sections of beach remained closed to the public so BP crews could clean. Anything past the yellow tape is not allowed.

A health advisory also went into effect warning beachgoers to stay out of the water. "It makes you want to cry," Larry said.

1,300 Men and women worked all day, shoveling oil, sifting through the sand, and collecting more than one-thousand bags of oil.

Workers have been doing this for hours and hours in 95 degree weather. but they aren't going to stop until it's done.

Visitors watched the action from the pier in disbelief. And we only spotted a couple of sunbathers who set up far behind the yellow tape.

Tourism is what Pensacola depends on "Oh it's depressing. what's going to happen to all the animals. people who work here?" asked Larry.

For now there are plenty of people at work, on the white sand, tackling the black beast that quickly took over their way of life.

All of the crews you see cleaning the beaches are contracted out by BP but they are actually all just local men and women working and sweating to clean their OWN beaches.

Most of them were recruited from unemployment offices in varying Florida counties.

On Wednesday oiled birds and a dolphin were spotted on Pensacola's shore. The dolphin died while being taken for treatment.

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